What to sell on eBay is the first challenge to building a profitable eBay business
I probably receive more emails on this subject than any other. Buyers who read our Complete eBay Marketing System want to start selling but just can’t figure out what to sell or how to get started.
If you are a new eBay seller, my first piece of advice is to clean out your garage or attic. You can’t sustain an eBay business this way, but you need to gain some experience selling before you go off and purchase a large lot of wholesale merchandise.
Start by selling used goods, small appliances, wedding gifts you never use, old books (non-fiction one are best), used sporting goods, clothing items (that great leather jacket that doesn’t fit you any more or that pair of cowboy boots you bought on your business trip to Dallas, but never wear). Just make sure the items are in good condition and be sure and describe them accurately. The experience you gain will be invaluable and you will not risk any capital or make any investment beyond some small eBay fees.
Virtually everything is for sale on eBay. One night while watching the sport of Curling during the Winter Olympics, I though a curling stone would make an attractive doorstop and conversation piece for my office. During the commercial I went on line to eBay and found dozens of curling stones for sale. One of them now holds the door open to our billiard room.
Examine your hobbies and interests. Too many sellers think the only way to make a fortune is to buy hundreds of the latest hot selling items and put up dozens of auctions. The problem is that hundreds of other sellers are doing the same thing. (If you don’t believe me do a search for diet pills, iPods or cell phones). As you gain experience you can move into these markets, but this area is fraught with danger for the new seller. There are plenty of companies with enough money to import these items directly by the thousands and undersell anyone who buys through a distributor or wholesaler.
Sell something on eBay that you know something about. Almost everyone collects "something." If you are knowledgeable about a collectible or an art object, then you have the ability to do the research to find the products at prices you can resell.
Once you gain experience try to focus on larger dollar items. If you only make $2.00 profit per sale, you have to close (and ship) 1000 auctions per month just to make $2,000. But if you make $10 on each eBay auction, you only have to close 200 auctions. That is a lot less work for the same amount of money.
Another technique is to sell items in small wholesale bulk lots. If you bought a large box of videotapes at a garage sale, separate them into categories and sell them as a lot. You will often make more money than selling them individually.
This also works for clothing. There are sellers that buy children’s clothing from garage sales, sort it by size and gender and sell it in lots. One of my neighbors does this. She will typically pay between $3 to $6 total for several pieces of clothing that she can get over $30 for on eBay. She does the same thing with closeout dealers. She will buy a pallet load of new children’s clothing, sort it by size and sell it in lots of 5 or 10 pieces. Although she might make slightly more selling the pieces individually, this way they sell quicker, the average sale is larger and she turns her inventory over more often than she could otherwise. Just in case you think this is not a good business, she is a Gold PowerSeller –someone who sells more than $10,000 a month.
On eBay seller I know purchases large lots of the hot selling items on eBay and turns around and sells them in smaller lots of 10 or 25 to other eBay sellers who want to buy for resale.
He recently imported 50,000 disposable cigarette lighters from Korea that he bought for about 11 cents each. He sold them on eBay in lots of 500 for 36 cents each. He made $125 on each lot. I asked him who was buying the lighters and he said that most of his buyers were flea market, gas station and convenience store owners who sold the lighters over the counter for 99 cents each.
Everyone wants to sell computers, iPods, software, movies, DVD’s, digital cameras and all sorts of consumer electronics. The sad fact is that SONY, Panasonic, Canon, and others don’t sell their latest hottest products to small dealers who work out of their home. (In fact they don’t sell anything except through their master distributors.) Even your local retail stores have trouble getting a large allocation of really hot products.
It is possible to get into this business if you have a lot of market and product knowledge (such as you work in a computer store) and you have the contacts to buy the merchandise. The problem is that you are competing with major retailers, some who sell under their own name and others who sell under blind usernames.
One way you can succeed selling consumer electronics is with overstock and closeout merchandise. Millions of dollars worth of consumer electronics, computers and software are sold by closeout dealers every week. The trick is to really know what you are buying and to be able to work on small margins and turn your inventory over often. Unfortunately it takes quite a bit of capital investment to compete in this arena.
There is also a huge market on eBay forused and "vintage" hi-fi equipment, cameras, old computers and computer hardware and so on. Last year I found an Akai Reel-to-reel tape deck at a garage sale for $25 and the seller threw in 10 reels of tape. I sold the deck on eBay for just under $200 and sold the 10 reels of tape separately in another auction for $30. I met one of eBay’s product managers last year at eBay Live. She sells vintage Apple computers, parts and software. She buys almost all of it at garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores.
Drop shipping is another strategy used by new sellers. I hesitate to recommend working with drop shippers because so many of them are not very reliable. (I work with DOBA ocassionally and can usually find products there and their shipping in pretty reliable.Click here to get a 14-day free trial.)
The problem with drop shipping is that your feedback is on the line. If the drop shipper is temporarily out of stock or somehow screws up your order — it is your feedback that will suffer. When you are starting out just one or two negative feedback comments can set your back months. Also the merchandise available from most drop shippers is very common and being sold by hundreds of other sellers.
If you are really strapped for cash, you can use a drop shipper temporarily. As soon as you can afford it however, I would start buying wholesale from direct wholesalers and/or distributors. You will make more money and have greater control over your business. You can find complete instructions for finding and dealing with real wholesalers in my best-selling book, The Wholesale Buying System.
When I am asked, "what should I sell," I am usually also asked what are the best selling items on eBay –The hot sellers.
Here is a list of the currently hot selling items on eBay. This is not a recommendation of what to sell. Each of these product areas is fraught with its own perils.
– Low cost jewelry
– Expensive watches and jewelry
– Heirloom jewelry
– Diet Pills
– Nutritional Sex Enhancers
– electric toothbrushes
– Pheromone scents
– Glass chess sets
toys in good condition
– New and used clothing for children and plus-sized clothing for women
– Western wear such as cowboy boots, belts, shirts, leather vests, etc.
– Software (including closed-out or last year’s software programs and games)
– Strobe pens
– baby formula and diapers
– Tools (power and hand tools)
– Perfume (including perfume samples and opened expensive perfumes that are at least over one-half full)
– Perfume bottles (some with or without perfume)
– Religious books and Bibles (Bibles are always a perennial seller)
– Non-fiction books on hobbies, sports, nautical subjects, history, military science, popular textbooks, and art & photography. Also books containing maps and art prints that can be broken and sold individually.
– Maps and old prints of ships, flowers, animals (horses and dogs are tops).
– Used auto parts for specialty automobiles (Porsche, BMW, MG, etc.)
– Low mileage Japanese cars and pickups
– Automotive models and car collectibles
– Signed sports collectibles
I could go on — but these are some of the best selling items on eBay today. (I am sure I missed a few). If you want to see the best selling items by category, go to Seller Central on eBay. Click on Category Tips and under each category, click on What’s Hot.
If you want to know what to sell on eBay, probably the single best piece of advice I can give new sellers is to be unique and to specialize. Find a niche market, learn everything about it and work it and expand it. One you reach the maximum potential in your niche –just find and start another one.
- The Complete eBay Marketing System for Professional eBay Sellers by Skip McGrath
A complete eBay system for starting and running a profitable eBay business
- My Personal Top-20 Wholesale Sources for eBay Sellers
You can access my list of top wholesale sources for new sellers